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2020 Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

We ranked the top 25 schools that offer an online Master's Degree in Criminal Justice by median salary one year after graduation. University of Maryland Global Campus tops the list with a starting salary of $72,600 for Master's in Criminal Justice graduates. Salve Regina University has the lowest median student debt on the list, at $20,500. Students who graduated with a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice from one of these schools had a median starting salary between $47,700 and $76,200.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Adelphi (MD) Adelphi (MD) $12,132 $41,000 $72,600
#2 #2 Columbus (GA) Columbus (GA) $13,822 $24,869 $69,300
#3 #3 Saint Paul (MN) Saint Paul (MN) $8,550 Not Reported $66,700
#4 #4 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $14,987 $39,500 $65,800
#5 #5 Charles Town (WV) Charles Town (WV) $6,600 $33,863 $65,400
#6 #6 Romeoville (IL) Romeoville (IL) $14,550 $41,000 $63,200
#7 #7 Newport (RI) Newport (RI) $10,650 $20,500 $57,200
#8 #8 Huntsville (TX) Huntsville (TX) $15,261 $34,638 $56,700
#9 #9 New Orleans (LA) New Orleans (LA) $16,190 Not Reported $55,900
#10 #10 East Lansing (MI) East Lansing (MI) $35,628 $27,816 $54,600
#11 #11 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $14,139 $38,687 $54,300
#12 #12 Lowell (MA) Lowell (MA) $26,840 $28,468 $52,100
#13 #13 Stevenson (MD) Stevenson (MD) $8,040 $29,838 $50,000
#14 #14 Orange Beach (AL) Orange Beach (AL) $3,735 $36,397 $49,700
#15 #15 Queens (NY) Queens (NY) $18,836 $33,836 $49,600
#16 #16 Louisville (KY) Louisville (KY) $26,650 $41,124 $49,500
#17 #17 Greenwood Village (CO) Greenwood Village (CO) $9,000 $46,357 $49,500
#18 #18 McKenzie (TN) McKenzie (TN) $10,609 $40,944 $49,400
#19 #19 Stephenville (TX) Stephenville (TX) $14,494 $30,270 $49,000
#20 #20 Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others) $6,462 - $25,888 $40,664 $48,700
#21 #21 New York (NY) New York (NY) $20,362 $22,351 $48,500
#22 #22 Burlington (MA) Burlington (MA) $24,309 $35,875 $48,100
#23 #23 Troy (AL) Troy (AL) $16,156 $44,567 $48,000
#24 #24 Boston (MA) Boston (MA) $53,572 $41,000 $47,700
#25 #25 Huntington (WV) Huntington (WV) $20,350 $41,000 $47,200

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for an online Master's in Criminal Justice degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

Median Salary $72,600
Median Debt $41,000
Annual Tuition $12,132

The Management Master's Degree with Criminal Justice Management Specialization through University of Maryland Global Campus provides the foundation for success in criminal justice administration and management with skills relevant to today's department and bureau workplaces with education in areas such as crime prevention, crisis management, law enforcement, and investigative forensics. 

This 36-credit online program includes study in criminal justice program design, threat analysis and risk assessment, and professional writing and communication. Students also learn how to conduct vulnerability studies and the relevance of legal knowledge to criminal justice management.

Students should have experience in statistics (or take Intro to Research Methods) and finance or accounting (or take Intro to Accounting & Financial Management).

University of Maryland Global Campus also offers a related BS in Criminal Justice to MS in Management Specialization in Criminal Justice Management fast-track for undergraduate students seeking a graduate degree.

Visit the University of Maryland's website. 

#2
Columbus (GA)
Median Salary $69,300
Median Debt $24,869
Annual Tuition $13,822

Columbus State University offers a Master of Public Administration - Criminal Justice Track fully online or as a hybrid option through online and the Columbus, GA campus. The program is designed to help students seeking public service careers in government agencies, criminal justice/law enforcement, and the public sector by developing skills in analysis, critical thinking, and problem solving form a public policy perspective. Career path outcomes include police officer, detective, FBI agent, Customs inspector, U.S. Marshall, security agent, social worker, parole officer, and corrections officer--to name a few.

The 36-hour program includes courses in Survey of Public Administration, Public Personnel Administration, Research Methods for Administration, Public Budgeting/Financial Administration, Policy Analysis, Distributive Justice, and Courts and Judicial Administration. Evening and online study options allow students to complete the courses without disrupting other scheduled obligations.

Visit Columbus State Univeresity's website.

#3
Median Salary $66,700
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $8,550

Undergraduates seeking graduate study in Criminal Justice can pursue a challenging and self-directed educational path through the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Leadership at Concordia University – Saint Paul. This program is also an opportunity for current professionals in military, social services, law enforcement, and corrections seeking higher credentials and increased earning potential.

Career paths for Criminal Justice Leadership graduates include criminal sociologist and private investigator/detective, with fully-online learning to accommodate working professionals. Many students in the program have experience in law enforcement, military, corrections, courts, and social services, which can help to augment the cohort education and networking.

Courses include Research Methods in Criminal Justice, Correctional Design, Applied Ethics in Criminal Justice Leadership, Reflective Adult Learner & Leadership, and Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice Leadership. Concordia University – Saint Paul also offers a BA in Criminal Justice for new undergraduate students.

Visit Concordia University – Saint Paul's website.

#4
Median Salary $65,800
Median Debt $39,500
Annual Tuition $14,987

This Master of Science in Criminal Justice program is offered as either a fully online degree or traditional brick-and-mortar degree that can be completed in 36 semester hours with a thesis or project option through University of Houston - Downtown. Online students receive the same degree as UHD campus students and each student's diploma and transcript are the same as those granted to traditional graduates.

Curriculum emphasizes research methods and statistical analysis that encourages students to independently develop research questions from criminal justice agencies for their course study. Graduates of the program will demonstrate proficiency in Criminological Theory, Research Methodology, as well as competence in analysis, critical thinking, and problem-solving strategies.

The program includes classes like Issues in Criminal Justice, Research Design and Methods, Advanced Criminology, Quantitative Analysis in Criminal Justice, Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation, and Administration in Criminal Justice.

Graduates of the MS in Criminal Justice are prepared for careers in policing, courts, and corrections through a variety of criminal justice and public service agencies, with some continuing on to doctoral programs or teaching fields.

Visit the University of Houston – Downtown's website.

#5
Charles Town (WV)
Median Salary $65,400
Median Debt $33,863
Annual Tuition $6,600

American Public University System offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice as a stand-alone degree or with concentrations in either Business Administration or Emergency Management and Disaster Management. The program can be completed entirely online in 36 credit hours with monthly course starts.

Instructors with professional experience in government and criminal justice organizations. Their goal is to prepare graduate students for analysis of biological and psychological theories of criminal behavior, assessment and evaluation of changes to laws for social reactions to crime and factors that influence punishment, sentencing, and corrections. Courses include Criminology, Criminal Justice Ethics, Police Administration, Criminal Law, Research Design and Methods, and Criminal Law.

The criminal justice programs are among the most popular at American Public University with networking and peer sharing opportunities with other students who are committed to public service and safety in local and national communities.

Students affiliated with the U.S. Military are encouraged to contact the admissions department about tuition opportunities.

Visit the American Public University System's website.